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Tree Care Critical for Winter Storm Safety

Storm damaged trees can create potentially dangerous situations for homeowners and neighbors. (Adobe Stock)
Storm damaged trees can create potentially dangerous situations for homeowners and neighbors. (Adobe Stock)
October 23, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine – In the aftermath of a windstorm that left Maine's coastal counties littered with downed trees, limbs, and branches, and thousands of people without power, experts say homeowners should do what they can now to prevent tree hazards this winter.

Jan Santerre, who coordinates Project Canopy for the Maine Forest Service, says it's hard to overestimate the value of trees that are properly cared for.

"They add economic value to your home,” she points out. “They also obviously provide shade, and they can mitigate energy costs, provide homes for wildlife.

“So, they're incredibly valuable – and, just like with any asset, you want to take care of that asset."

Santerre adds that branches and trees on power lines should always be dealt with by calling the local power company.

And she stresses homeowners should rely on professionals to assess the severity of the damage before trying to remove any loose branches.

Uprooted trees can be dangerous, and Santerre says only a licensed and insured arborist should perform any climbing or chainsaw work to clean them up.

"Where a tree is completely uprooted, and the root mass is lifted up, that can be a very dangerous situation for somebody cutting a tree,” she points out. “There's been situations where people have been killed, you know, not knowing that that root mass was going to flip up."

Santerre also points out that as the weather becomes colder, ice and snow loads can further damage leaning trees or branches not yet broken free.

Homeowners should examine their trees now for any possible risks.

"The main thing that homeowners can do – you know, on a nice, pretty calm day – is to actually go out and assess their trees, to look for potential problems that could become worse," Santerre urges.

A list of licensed arborists is on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - ME